Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weekend Recap - Cupcakes Galore!

Sorry for the delay in recapping my weekend but I really needed Sunday and Monday off to recover. As I mentioned on Friday, my Dad got married this weekend and I was tasked with the role of pastry chef and photographer extraordinaire. 

Congratulations to the happy couple!
Overall, everything went great. The day was somewhat casual which was perfect since this was my first time taking photos that you can't just re-do should they not turn out. As for the cupcakes, I took Friday off work to bake and decorate four dozen of them (and one cake!).

On Father's Day, Birthdays, or anytime he can, my Dad requests chocolate layer cake with "dull" (butter cream) icing and Smarties - why would his wedding be any different? I thought cupcakes would be easier for 60ish people than a bunch of cakes and was too timid to try anything with tiers. I also wanted to make them pretty looking but there's only so much you can do with chocolate butter cream and Smarties...

As they came out of the oven...
I will admit to using boxed cake mix for the cupcakes. In my defense, it was way easier and much more practical for such a large batch AND no one could tell the difference! The reason no one could tell the cupcakes weren't from scratch is because the icing was 100% real butter and sugar - the good stuff!

I used this chocolate fudge recipe from Joy of Baking and it was really easy. Then I just piped it on and topped with Smarties... 60+ times...

Aren't they cute! I was really happy with how well they turned out, and they stood up all night and throughout the day. But the best part was that they were really tasty - after all, what's the point if it all tastes gross?

The cupcake papers made a big impact too - they came from Michael's. 
Although I probably complained throughout the day of baking, now that it's over I can't stop looking for another opportunity to do it all over again. However, my boyfriend said cupcakes aren't a viable career choice... part of me really wants to prove him wrong...


Monday, June 27, 2011

Patio Envy

The weather may not be perfect but school is out and it feels like summer even if I haven't been sunburned yet. I'm hoping that the delay in hot weather will translate to a warm, drawn out fall - and I'm ok putting off the aloe and peeling for a while yet (note - I DO wear sunscreen, promise!).

I know that the weather will eventually warm up and when it does I'll be ready to BBQ and sip cocktails on the patio. Here are some dream spaces that have created huge patio envy, unfortunately my own little cement pad doesn't measure up.

This cottage is so secluded - I could sit on that porch with my sweetie, reading something classic and romantic, in an airy, girlie dress...

Via Pinterest

I love patios with fireplaces for cool spring days or summer nights. We aren't allowed fire pits within city limits here but I'm thinking this could be a good compromise - no need to give up marshmallow roasts!

Better Homes and Gardens

Aren't succulents just wonderful? I really like how they fill in the gaps between the stepping stones AND they don't need much water!

Anniesannuals via Flikr

The sun coming through in this patio and wrought iron gate make me think of France or Spain - although I've never been (yet!). I'm sure just beyond the gate are fields of grapes ripening in the sunshine...

Mystic M

This outdoor setting is amazing for a small birthday dinner - or, swap in a small table, two chairs, and a whole lot of candles for some 'one on one' time...

Style Me Pretty

Although my space may be small and ultimately controlled by the strata group I think with a bit of work it could start to resemble one of these great spaces.


Friday, June 24, 2011

A Bit of Brilliance - Loooong Weekend

I'm extra chipper today because... it's my day off!
Although I'm out of the office today I'll still be very busy - I'm making a cake and four dozen cupcakes for my Dad's wedding tomorrow.

While I'm baking up a storm and taking care of some last minute details (like a much needed pedicure) here are my favorite pins of the week...

I really love the colour and texture of the backdrop in this photo - wouldn't it be lovely for a wedding photo booth? Clearly I've got weddings on the brain...

Via Pinterest

I love, love, love leather cuffs and this one is so simple and feminine! Plus, there is a DIY tutorial so we can all have one in every colour imaginable...

Via Pinterest

This is genius! Now I just need to find enough wood paddles to paint and distress. Although I wouldn't hesitate to use it at home, this would be perfect for our family cabin on the lake. 

Via Pinterest

My mouth has been watering since I pinned this picture. Fondue is something I can really only do every now and then, chocolate fondue a bit more often if I dare, but Haagen-Dazs ice cream dipped in chocolate is something I could eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner - plus snacks in between.

Via Pinterest

Isn't this picture just divine? Equal parts of me want to be locked in a romantic kiss in the rain while also behind the camera capturing the drama...

Via Pinterest

Have a great weekend, I'll try to put aside some time to photograph the cupcake gong show that I assume will ensue...


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hey, Check This Out...

This week I've stumbled upon two really great websites (well, one is a blog) that I want to share. The first one features someone by the name Lauren Conrad -apparently she was on some show or something? and the second is a great resource for getting in shape and tracking weight loss progress. 

The Beauty Department
Ok, so I HAVE seen The Hills and know who Lauren Conrad is - I promise not to refer to her as LC for the duration of this post. It turns out that she has her own blog (with Kristin Ess and Amy Nadine) thebeautydepartment.com that offers hair and make-up tutorials, tools and products. 

I will admit that the tutorials are my favorite part of the site - they include lots of photos and the instructions are very clear. I have given a couple different hair tutorials a go and they worked well, even with my extremely thick hair. 

10 minute waves

My Fitness Pal
My friend actually passed along this little gem a while back (months and months ago honestly) and I never got around to really checking it out until now - which is a real shame because it is fantastic! First, and most importantly, it's entirely free. After making a profile, which takes little time, you can set goals and track your daily food consumption, exercise, weight, and measurements.


The thing I like most about this sight is that it allows you to quickly punch in your meals for the day and calculate your caloric intake (their database of food is huge!). I find that recording what I eat forces me to make smarter choices and pay attention instead of mindlessly grabbing something and shoving it in my mouth. 

Also, there is no better motivation to get your butt off the couch than seeing that your food choices weren't that stellar for the day. 

And...please, please, please approach any program like this with the goal of being healthy and getting fit. Be smart, move ahead gradually, and it never hurts to talk to your doctor first...

So there you have it,  two new websites to fill what little free time I can find...


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hooray for Houndstooth!

There is something about houndstooth that catches my eye. It doesn't matter where I am or how good (or really bad) it looks - I can't help but do a double take.

When I started decorating my house I knew I wanted a punch of graphic houndstooth, which came in the form of a shower for my guest bathroom. The choices out there were limited (made of cheap plastic with a hefty price tag!) so I took matters into my own hands. I'd heard rumblings that a fabric store a couple towns over had some cotton print houndstooth (none of this suiting fabric) and I was lucky to get over there immediately and pick some up (I may or may not have used a vacation day...). Then, like most of my projects, it sat for a while until I actually got down to work.

In theory, it was really quite simple to make - just a large rectangle to fit the size of my shower. Of course it got a little more complex and at one point I needed to replace my supplies after driving away with my hammer and grommet kit on the hood of my car... My fabric wasn't wide enough so I cut it into two long pieces and sewed them together. Then, I hemmed all four sides and put some grommets into the top for the curtain hooks.

Although I have a little piece of houndstooth to feast my eyes on daily I just can't get enough....

This dress - paired with the bright blue belt - is amazing! Why is it always so hard to find a decent sized houndstooth print? Everything is so small and blends to look all gray and blah. THIS one is punchy and glorious...

Via Pinterest

This room is equal parts romantic and modern. The layering makes the monochromatic decor look warm and multi-dimensional instead of cold and sterile. The houndstooth initially caught my eye but I equally love the side table and chandelier...

Via Pinterest

I loved this room from the moment I spotted it over at Parlour. The dark walls, antique touches, huge (homemade) light fixture... and the houndstooth rug is the cherry on top! Again, where do people find these wonderful large scale prints?


Is there any better way to add houndstooth to an outfit than with accessories? These heels are lovely, although I wouldn't be able to walk very far...

Via Pinterest

Houndstooth doesn't have to be just black and white - although between you and I it's my favorite. This iPhone case is amazing - if I was lucky enough to own an i-phone this is definitely the kind of case I'd be searching for!

Via Pinterest

Who said houndstooth is just for the adults? I love this nursery because it isn't all pink and blue and childish. I think, the fact I'd put my personal opinions first when decorating a nursery, is a sign I'm not ready for kids...

Via Pinterest

Monday, June 20, 2011

Some Love for the Solair Chair

A while back, which gushing over Object Orange (my favorite mid-century furniture store), I introduced you to my Solair Chair. 

I had been wanting one of these beauties for quite some time when I pulled up to Object Orange and spotted four sitting out front - they hadn't even made it into the store yet! 

Between my mom and I there was only one left when we pulled away...

For me, Solair Chairs are just another part of summer - along with popsicles, bathing suits, and the smell of sun-tan lotion. They fit perfectly on a patio, around the pool, or at the lake, and everyone seems to have one or two, once your start looking...

Via Pinterest
I remember growing up my grandmother having one as well as our neighbours at the lake. I  always thought they were cool and practical, the plastic is perfect for wet swim-suits, but it turns out these little beauts also have quite the history...

The Solair was designed by Montrealers Fabio Fabiano and Michelange Panzini, in 1972. Riding the wave of design energy coming out of Expo 67, the two newly minted designers were recruited by Industries Provinciales, Saint-Damien (Québec) to rework the concept of a Canadian-designed, comfortable and stylish, modern indoor and outdoor chair. Using new injection moulding plastic technology and steel framing, the chair was designed over the space of one weekend so as to meet a pressing contract deadline. Since 1989, the chair has been in continuous production and distribution by Industries Emile Lachance Ltée.
Extensively retailed throughout the 70′s the Solair was marketed across Canada and the eastern seaboard of the United States as far south as Florida. A stalwart in Eaton’s and Sears catalogues; the chair went on to become an iconic fixture of North American roadside motels and pools of the period. Lightweight and extremely comfortable, the Solair, with its simple lines and solid practicality exudes an allure that continues to speak to us about its emblematic place in Canadian culture.

- The Canadian Design Resource, by Kate Eisen and Duncan Farnan

So many colours to choose from!
I've decided to keep my Solair inside - right next it is in my living room. It turned out to be really comfortable and I just couldn't put it somewhere I wouldn't use it everyday. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Bit of Brilliance - During the Intermission...

The Canucks can't keep me down for long... after all, they made a great run (those rioting morons were a downer eh?). Although there were two playoff games this week I still managed to find some time for Pinterest - Here are my favorite pins of the week...

Isn't this picture dreamy? The patchwork bedding is lovely but the carved wood headboard makes my heart go pitter-patter!
Carved Headboard

I love Popsicles! Nothing beats their frosty goodness on a hot summer day. This year I want to experiment with all kinds of flavours and master the art of the Popsicle!

Raspberry-Peach in shot glasses!
I always thought I was a simple, emerald-cut, solitaire kind of girl until the day this beaut appeared on my screen. Simply gorgeous - and who doesn't like sapphires? 

too pretty for words

I've been thinking about Greece a lot lately - is there ever a bad time for a holiday? This room is amazing - relaxing and calm - but I'd love to see the view from that window...

Great Purple Blanket

This may be the start of a very ugly downward spiral for me - A recipe for single serving, no-egg, cookie dough...


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mouring Period

Game 7 just wrapped up and I don't think my heart has ever been so broken - at least it's never hurt this bad before...

Sadly my beloved Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins last night. I think Tim Thomas is a transformer, or at least some sort of test tube robot hybrid. 

I'm taking today off to mourn - and catch up on everything I put on hold during the playoffs. I promise I'll be back tomorrow with a shiny new post. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cane Chairs Completed!

I'm a bit ashamed that it took me so long, considering I purchased these beauts about 5+ months ago, before I started blogging, but I can now cross cane chairs off of my to DIY list!

They are finally done and I am really pleased with how they turned out. However, let me be candid for a second, this project (at least parts of it) was a real bitch.

I'll never try to discourage anyone from taking on a DIY project but I also don't think it's fair to misrepresent a project as something it isn't. It was fun but also quite involved - and upholstery never seems to be as easy as planned...

Before & After:

So as you can see I went with the turquoise damask print and the pink patterned print (the yellow was sold out but I think the pink is even better!) 

And as for the back... hexagons and butterflies!

Before I get into all the gory details here's a brief re-cap of how I got here - it's only fair since I've strung you along for months.

I bought two cane chairs last winter and even before I got them home there was the makings of a good story - you can get the dramatic details here.

Clearly my chairs did not come from a smoke free environment so I tore them apart and trashed everything that a) smelled of smoke b) had food residue on it and c) could not be identified. Check out some of the "treats" I discovered here

I looked for some fabric locally but nothing was good enough for my lovely chairs so I went online - where I was overwhelmed with choice. You can see all the options I contemplated here.

Once the frames were bare I gave them a quick sanding - there's a brief overview here. I used three different sandpapers to prep the chair starting with a coarse grit and moving towards medium and then fine. I had bought a combo pack so I used all three and it worked fine but if you don't want to take off too much wood material on your own project you can probably get by with just the medium or fine grit paper. 

After sanding, I wiped the chairs down to remove all the dust, put down my drop cloths, and started painting. And this is where I ran into my first trip up - besides the gross upholstery that made my skin crawl... 

I should have primed the wood first but skipped this step to save time, funny thing is that I just ended up using more paint to make up for the lack of primer. Next time I will definitely use primer first. As far as paint goes, I used Krylon glossy white spray paint and despite my lack of skill it worked great. I didn't research spray paint or anything, just chose the one that was easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Clearly I don't have the right personality for spray painting - It took every ounce of patience that I have to apply multiple thin coats and not try to cover every inch of wood all at once. As a person who wants it done right but also right now I had to realize that I couldn't have both - luckily I chose doing it right(ish), which took forever!

It was a bit of a Jekyl and Hyde thing going on while I painted and at times the impatient part of me took over resulting in a few drips on the hard to reach parts of the legs. One thing I've had to accept is that I don't have all the skills and therefore my finished projects may never be perfect. But sometimes, like with these chairs, anything is an improvement. 

I ended up using 5 cans of spray paint for 2 chairs - how many coats this translates into I'm not sure. I sprayed the frames and then flipped them upside down as well to make it easier to reach every area - I also used some wood blocks to lift the chair a few inches off the ground. 

It's starting to feel like summer here so the painting process stretched out for a few weeks when I probably could have done it in just a few days. While I was painting my cushions sat in the middle of my living room - mocking me. 

The seat cushion was in decent shape but the back needed to be replaced. I used 1inch foam for this and also picked up some batting to give a little more life to the seat. 

When it came time for upholstery I started with what I know - the seat cushion. I placed the seat cushion side down on my batting and stapled it to the wood base. I then trimmed off any excess and did this process again with my fabric. This was pretty easy as I've upholstered chair seats before and the cushion shape wasn't too wild. 

After the seat I moved on to the back. I will admit that this part intimidated me - and rightfully so! I'd looked at tutorials online so I had a bit of an idea of what to do but there's only so much you can grasp from pictures and words online. The first chair took much longer because I had to figure out a process and this took a lot of trial and error. 

I ended up cutting a piece for the back of the back - the piece that shows from the rear side of the chair. I tacked it into place with my stapler, one staple on each side, to make sure it was straight before going staple crazy. The hardest part of this step was getting the staples to go into the meaty part of the small strip of wood that frames the back. There wasn't a lot of room to maneuver my stapler and as the fabric became taught all around the back it was even more difficult. 

After the back piece was in place (good side facing out so it can be seen!) I added the foam and then the front piece of back fabric (the one that shows from the front). The easiest way I can explain it is as a sandwich - back fabric facing out, foam, front fabric facing out the other way. Make sense?

If it was tight in there before the foam and second piece of fabric didn't make it easier. I ended up going through a lot of 'failed' staples that either went into the fabric or didn't dig into the wood frame enough. It was really trial and error. 

The hardest part of the upholstery is that you need to be part contortionist to reach some of the spots and put enough pressure on the staple gun. My back is so sore today, I can't really ignore that I'm getting older...

After the back was together I needed to cover the exposed staples so I simply glued on some trim that I found at my local fabric store. I also contemplated nail head trim but I could only find single nail heads and I didn't think I'd be able to line them up nicely to get the look I wanted. 

And that's it! There were some less than proud moments of frustration but in the end they are just what I wanted! I'm going to put the turquoise one in my living room and the pink one in my bedroom - I'll post some pictures once I've had a chance to clean up a bit. 


Monday, June 13, 2011

Living Wall Love

Happy Monday! Just a quick post today, I'm working on a longer one tomorrow revealing my completed cane chairs - yes that's correct, they are done and they are fabulous!

On Friday I was at our local University to watch my boyfriend graduate with his Bachelors Degree. While I was waiting for the shenanigans to begin I checked out the newest building on campus where they have a living wall!

The living wall is absolutely amazing - it makes everything seem so fresh, crisp, and cool. I've read about the environmental benefits of them as well - they lower the temperature and clean the air... 

A quick search on Pinterest and I found more realistic options for the home. 

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

via Pinterest
And now, surprise, surprise, I want one...